Posted on December 13 2022
The limited-edition dual-sided Lollibly playmat is a great base for children to engage in messy sensory play, and can be easily wiped with a lightly soaped damp cloth.
Try these low to no-prep DIY activities for your infants and toddlers. These use objects you already have in your home, and are quick to set up and clean up. Better still, they help your child’s fine and gross motor skills, and cognitive development, all while giving you time to drink your coffee. Just don’t be surprised if they choose to do the activity their own ways. While your child can explore these activities on their own, it’s always best to keep a watchful eye on them lest they put some of these objects into their mouths.
Vertical Play DIY Activities
Test your child’s letter recognition with the fun spider’s web.
1. Tracing Routes
Get some painter’s tape, and test it out on a tiny section of your wall, to ensure it doesn’t damage your walls. Try to get a few different colours so that your child can follow the different routes. Tape up the walls in a range of patterns, e.g., zigzag or at 90 degree angles, and have your child trace a pom pom up these different colours. Children can also use a range of small trucks or cars, as long as they don’t have sharp edges. This trains the muscles in their body, helps with their neck positions and they use both sides of their brain in this activity. A similar idea is to use wrapping paper rolls and cardboard tubes to make ramps and tunnels.
2. Alphabet Spider Web
With some painter’s tape, create a vertical spider’s web under your dining table, the sticky side facing outwards. Use a marker and write the alphabets on the tape. Next, draw a big spider and cut it out. Punch out circles with a circle punch or use large dot stickers, and then draw flies on these and the alphabets. Should your child already be proficient in recognising letters, you can increase the difficulty by using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters. Good for children two to five years old, they can then take the flies and paste them to the appropriate letter.
3. Toy Rescue
With the aforementioned painter’s tape, cut out short strips and paste them to the wall, trapping your child’s favourite toys, such as cars, cooking utensils and ingredients. The aim is for your child to practise rescuing them. This is great for sitting babies, or children practising their standing. It also helps improve dexterity, motor control, and targets sensory integration.
DIY Activities for Water Play
While your toddler engages in fun water play washing their cars, they also refine their pre-writing skills and keep their toys clean.
4. Car Wash
Let your toddler wash their cars in a small plastic bin or their bathtub, with a brush. This helps refine their pre-writing skills, while letting them play with water and a little bit of soap. Other water activities include letting your toddler kick and splash in the tub during bath time or otherwise, or scoop and pour water from one container to another.
5. Falling Leaves Water Play
Bring your little one on a walk and gather up the nicest looking leaves you can find. Then, in a pool ($29.90) or a Stokke XL bathtub ($99), add a few drops of food colouring or child-safe bath bombs. Next throw in the leaves and let your child play with them and practice scooping with their bath toys.
6. Transferring Ice
You’ll need a tray, a sponge, and two bowls. Fill one with ice, and pass your toddler tongs so they can practise transferring ice from one container to the other. If they splash or make a mess, let them clean up by wiping the tray with the sponge.
DIY Activities with a Cardboard Box
Let your baby practice crawling or sitting in this cardboard tunnel decorated with fairy lights and leaves.
7. Mystery Box
Cut a wide circle on the top of a cardboard box. Make the edges smooth by placing masking tape around them. This helps your infant develop cognitively, and improve hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Next put your infant’s favourite objects and small toys inside and let your 9 - 11 month old pick them out.
8. Ribbon Tug Box
Cut off the ends of a diaper box and make some holes on the sides, then loop ribbon through the holes. Tie off both ends and let your little one have loads of fun tugging on the ribbons. This activity is great for babies around six to seven months old.
9. Tunnel Magic
Best for mobile infants, poke small holes with scissors in the top of a large cardboard box to fit the leaves and string lights. Poke more small holes on the top of the leaves (real or fake) and thread yarn through the leaves. Take this and thread through the box’s holes and tape to secure it. You can also thread lights through the box holes and turn the lights on for added fun. This helps your child develop social, emotional and gross motor skills and practise their crawling.
Let your child learn to identify colours with this colour sorting activity that’s easy and quick to set up.
10. Gross Motor Colour Matching
Tape several different coloured papers to the floor (you could use the above mentioned painter’s tape or just masking tape). Put coloured items like pom poms, Duplos or Legos in a large bin and help your little ones match the colours until they can do it themselves. Other options include cars or trucks or other blocks. This trains their fine motor skills and aids them in colour recognition.
11. Leaf Letter Recognition
Cut out a long strip of paper and divide them into 26 squares. Write the letters on them, and write letters on leaves. If you haven’t gathered leaves, use what you have. Flash cards with the alphabet, blocks or puzzle pieces also work. Let your child match the letters.
12. Posting with Egg Carton
Poke holes with scissors in the top of an egg carton, ensuring the hole is wide enough for a single Q-tip to go through. Give your child 12 Q-Tips (or however many egg slots you have) and let your child post these into the holes. Children can train their fine motor and pre-writing skills, and a foundational maths skill which is one to one correspondence, or counting one object only once.
Calm your anxious toddler with this sand raking activity.
13. Sensory Boards with Wet Wipe Lids
Use a cardboard board box and cut out a rectangle. Next, hot glue the wet wipe lids to the box , and glue sensory materials inside. These might include pom poms, googly eyes, pipe cleaners and tin foil. Tape the board to the wall with painter’s tape. These work for your 7 - 8 month old infants who are learning to crawl, or you can place this on the floor for tummy time.
14. Sensory Discovery Path
Gather some sensory items like tissue paper, ziploc bag with paint, bubble wrap and tape the items to the floor with painter’s tapes and masking tape. This is great for children learning to crawl, but toddlers and infants are likely to enjoy it too. A similar idea is a sensory bag with food colouring, water and a baby-safe oil. You can use this to trace letters and numbers to identify.
15. Calming Sand Play
Aside from talking and managing emotions, help your anxious or worried child calm down with sand play. In a tray, activity table or the pool, pour in white sand, add purple food colouring and lavender essential oil. Children can use wooden tools or any sand play to rake or scoop the sand and help regulate their own emotions.
Motherswork Recommends: Aromababy Massage Oil with Organic Lavender and Rose essential oils